University staff pension contribution increases

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25 Nov, 2019

University staff pension contribution increases 

Lecturers and support staff in 60 universities have gone on strike following disagreements on pensions and payments.  

Around half of the UK’s universities will be affected from the strike organised by the University and Colleges Union (UCU), as its members reached a “breaking point” in relation to the amount of work given,  real-terms cuts in pay as well as the gender pay gap of 15%. The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) also implemented changes to pensions. 

Members of the UCU have seen their pension contributions rise to 9.6%, from a previous 8%. With the current change, the lecturers affected will have less money in their pocket for retirement, whereas the professors will gain. The union calculated that lecturers will face a £240,000 deduction and professors will have a £730,000 rise. 

However, it was reported that the employer’s pension contribution has also increased. The University and Colleges Employers Association and Universities UK stated that they will be paying £250 million more for pensions annually, as their contribution increased from 18% to 21.1%. By paying the lecturers’ extra contribution, taking the employer’s total to 22.7%, would cost them around £373 million every year. 

The Association explained that its members “"would have to divert unsustainable amounts of money from other budgets with potential consequences including for jobs, student support, course closures and larger class sizes,” if they accepted the union’s demands. 

Carol Costello, from Liverpool University, said "It's important that the... pension scheme trustees secure the benefits for the future of the 230,000 staff in the scheme. They've got to meet the legal requirements that the Pensions Regulator sets out. We believe that what the Pensions Regulator has said is that ultimately the level of contributions that we're putting in is at the limit."

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